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Wisconsin Football Disrespected in Athlon Sports Preseason All-Big Ten Honors



Wisconsin Football running back Braelon Allen
Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) during warmups prior to the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, Athlon Sports released their preseason All-Big Ten teams and numerous Wisconsin football players received honors, but not as many as you’d think. 

Although the Badgers are the favorites to win the Big Ten West in 2023 under new head coach Luke Fickell, UW only had eight representatives, which might seem like a lot on paper, but Athlon Sports goes four teams deep when making their predictions. 

Wisconsin Badgers Who Received Honors From Athlon Sports 

The headliner from Wisconsin was Braelon Allen. The junior running back was named a First-Team All-Big Ten player on offense by Athlon Sports. Allen enters the 2023 season coming off a year where he carried the ball 230 times for 1,242 yards (5.4 YPC) and 11 touchdowns. He also caught a career-high 13 passes for 104 yards.

In addition, three total Wisconsin football players appeared on the second team All-Big Ten offense and defense: wide receiver Chimere Dike, offensive tackle Jack Nelson, and inside linebacker Maema Njonmeta. 

This is a fair projection for Dike, given UW’s new offensive scheme and that he finished No. 9 in the conference last season in receiving yards with 689 on 47 catches with six touchdowns. 

I can live with Nelson on the second team for now, but I firmly believe that someone who has been a mainstay on the Badgers offensive line for the past two seasons, playing over 1,500 snaps at left tackle, will have his best season yet and head to the NFL after the season

At 6 feet and 240 pounds, Njongmeta has the size and athleticism to be a dominant force in the middle of the Wisconsin football defense. Last season he led UW with a team-high 95 tackles, adding 25 pressures, 12.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, and an interception en route to Third-team All-Big Ten honors. The second-team appearance is fair, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he pushed for a spot on the first team. 

Where Athlon Sports Disrespected Wisconsin Football 

Now, onto the more disrespectful portion of the Athlon Sports All-Big Ten teams. The four players already mentioned were no-brainer additions to those lists, but the lack of players on the third and fourth teams leaves me with an axe to grind. 

Wisconsin football center/guard Tanor Bortolini made the cut on the third-team All-Big Ten offense. He was an honorable mention selection last season and had 1,106 snaps of experience as one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the entire conference. 

Then, you won’t find another Badgers player until the fourth-team defense/special teams, where C.J. Goetz and Hunter Wohler make an appearance, along with kicker Nathaniel Vakos.  

How SMU transfer Tanner Mordecai, a proven commodity, doesn’t at least make the fourth team ahead of Penn State’s Drew Allar, a player who hasn’t even taken the field yet, is beyond me. 

Some other notable Wisconsin football snubs (because there are four teams) would be safety Kamo’i Latu, inside linebacker Jordan Turner, and cornerback Alexander Smith. 

It’s May, so I shouldn’t be reading this far into things, but come fall, I’m confident Wisconsin will change its national perception. 

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